“MsBurb, what’s your opinion? Did Charlie return to Cielo Drive after the killers returned to Spahn?”
This, above all others, seems to be the burning question.
Beyond the answer, one wonders why, above all other enquiries on this complicated set of events, this particular mystery seems to need some sort of solution?
I’ve given it some thought, (without spraining my brain, of course!) and I tend to think that there is some part of us which is STILL trying to either, 1) make some logical sense out of these wholly senseless acts; or 2) put Charlie at the Tate crime scene to believe that he was indeed responsible for these crimes; or 3) make sense of his following actions, that to go back and see what he saw, there at Tate, was the real reason he joined in with his killers the following night, knowing that after all that, there would be no turning back.
I don’t know the answer, really. But whatever the reason, we somehow need to know…Did Charlie Return to 10050 Cielo Drive in the early morning hours of Friday August 9, 1969?
There are definitely two camps of thought on this question. One, the obvious, says, “No, he didn’t return. He was too smart to get himself any where near that crime scene. He’s an ex-con; he wouldn’t take the risk.”
The other, in retort, says, “Why not? Knowing him, he probably did. Heck, maybe he even went back to find Sadie’s knife and finish the hanging that Tex was supposed to do in the first place. That answers why there was blood on the porch that matched Sharon and why blood was so smeared on her body. Charlie moved the corpses while he was there!”
And neither camp, both quite adamant in their viewpoints, I might add, has really ever satisfied me, I must say.
Skip back years, and to my on-again/off-again hobby of watching whatever interviews were publicized by the killers, and Charlie, and as the years went by, I started to see a pattern to especially Charlie’s responses on any topic of choice.
Charlie always gave the interviewer a colonel of truth in his response, only, for whatever reason, he felt compelled to wrap it around either a word game or out-and-out-B.S. in his delivery.
That fact just stayed with me, unused, but there, until I read books by authors examining this question and stumbled upon the forums where posters were asking and discussing the same.
And slowly at first, but eventually, completely, in the end, I realized that Charlie did what he said he did that night, and he returned to the Tate property after the killers had gone to bed at Spahn’s.
But that thought I kept to myself for a while as I KNEW it would never be generally accepted, and instead, I did what my Dad would have done, and returned to the evidence to support my theory.
She was very specific when she told of when, at what time roughly, Charlie returned to their bed at the trailer on those two nights in question – the Tate and the LaBianca nights – and quoting from Vince’s book,
“Stephanie had told LAPD that Manson had spent the nights of Friday, August 8, and Saturday August 9, with her. On questioning her, I [Vince] learned that about an hour after dinner on August 8, Manson took her to the trailer at Spahn and told her to go to sleep, that he would join her soon. However, she didn’t see him again until shortly before dawn the next morning, at which time he awakened her and took her with him to Devil’s Canyon, the camp across the road from the ranch.”
“Charlie was waiting for us on the boardwalk of the old movie set, dancing around naked with Nancy Pitman (Brenda McCann) in the moonlight. His first words were: ‘What’re you doing home so early?’ I told him what had happened – it had been messy, like he wanted, lots of panic, everybody dead. Sadie told him the line about the devil, and he grinned, pleased. When he asked why we didn’t go to any other houses I just shrugged. Then he looked each of us in the eye solemnly. ‘Do you have any remorse? he demanded. ‘No,’ we each replied. ‘Okay,’ he said gently. ‘Go to sleep and don’t tell anyone.’ As the girls wandered off, he called me back. ‘Was it really Helter Skelter?’ he asked. ‘Yeah, it sure was Helter Skelter.”
And from Tex’s courtroom testimony,
“A I came out of the bathroom and got into the back seat of the car and laid down and ended up at the ranch.
Q Do you remember what time of day or night it was?
A Just that it was dark and late.
Q What did you do when you got to the ranch?
A We all went into the room at the end of the ranch house.
Q Was anybody up at that hour?
A Charlie was running around without any clothes on, I remember that.
Q Anybody else with him?
A And Brenda was there, and that's all I can recall.”
Confirming that indeed Charlie and Brenda were awake and saw the killers return early.
The Ford’s gas tank was full, evidenced by Tex’s courtroom testimony,
“A We went up and over and stopped at a filling station.”
and by his recitation of the events in his book,
“Once we got down into the Valley, we stopped for gas (we paid for it out of the seventy dollars we stole from Abigail Folger)…”
Giving Charlie the opportunity and the means to go out from Spahn’s for any number of reasons, one possibly being to view with his own eyes his “Helter Skelter” at work. And since we have taped statements from Stephanie stating that Charlie was missing from their bed “until shortly before dawn the next morning”, he has no plausible Family alibi for that period of time after the killers returned to Spahn’s, which by most accounts was around 2a.m. but before the paper-boy, Steve Shannon, first looked into the Tate property between 4:40 and 5 a.m.
That leaves approximately 2.5 hours in which,
a) No one in the Family knew where Charlie nor Brenda were;
b) The Ford not witnessed staying at the ranch by anyone after 2 a.m. and it was filled with gas;
c) Stephanie noting the time as “before dawn the next morning” when Charlie returned to their bed;
d) Charlie feeling the need to remove himself from the Spahn property by taking Stephanie to Devil’s Canyon.
Yes, all of this is basically circumstantial evidence, save for Stephanie’s statement, but if Charlie and Brenda were not a Tate, then where were they? No one, to date, has ever come out and offered an alibi.
To add to this circumstantial band-wagon, is the following;
1) NO documented wiping of prints at Cielo by the killers on the scene; yet there were no useable prints found by the killers on the Rambler nor in the living room BUT there was documented wiping of prints at LaBianca's and at Gary's?
2) Manhattan framed eyeglasses that could NOT be ID'd to any known Cielo resident or visitor, yet, out in full view, not hidden under furniture to suggest a missing object from months or years prior this night?
3) The fact that Charlie KNEW Sadie had lost her knife up at Cielo and his adamant orders to Tex et al. that he, nor the Family, nor Spahn Ranch ever be connected to the crimes. This, in and of itself, provides a motive for a return to the crime scene by Charlie. Of course, the big hole in this theory is the fact that neither Charlie nor his “partner” ever find Sadie’s knife, the only excuse I can give was the preoccupied state in which they must have found themselves once they were on the scene.
4) The ear witnesses living around Cielo, who heard activity in the direction of that property well AFTER the killing had ceased BUT BEFORE dawn broke.
5) The odd placement of the one towel over Jay's head that could NOT have landed in just a throw from the front door to where Jay was laying...the footage just too far to believe.
6) The LAPD stating that the towel was tucked UNDER the noose and not just laying on top of Jay's head and one publicized crime scene photo which seems to corroborate LAPD's statement.
7) The later instructions to Katie and Leslie TO wipe prints at LaBianca when no such instruction is known to have been given by Charlie on the Tate night, the assumption being that Charlie had taken care of the print risk on the night of Tate himself.
8) Charlie AND Family members BOTH admitting to the use of those Manhattan framed eye-glasses as a fire-starter in the desert and at Spahn.
9) No evidence that the bodies were moved nor attempted to be re-hung, suggesting NO MALE presence with Charlie there that night, as it would have taken two males to lift the dead-weight of each of those victims.
And the final, and what may be the most incriminating statement yet, made by Charlie himself, his first and only statement which he has never retracted, in which he admits returning with a “partner”, as detailed in Nuel Emmons’ book “MANSON In His Own Words”, the only authorized biography of Manson, which he poo-poos only after Nuel refused to hand over, as promised, Charlie’s due financial compensation,
“A normal person would find the details of the night’s events shocking and horrifying, but I had long ago stopped measuring myself by society’s standards. The story I was hearing from Tex and Sadie did not shock me. I did not feel pity or compassion for the victims. My only concern was whether it resembled the Hinman killing. Would the police now have reason to believe that Bobby was not the slayer of Hinman? And were the kids, loaded with drugs, clever enough to avoid leaving prints or evidence of their identities? Knowing Sadie and Tex, and their flair for dramatic exaggeration, I doubted the slayings went down as they had described. Most importantly, did they leave a trail that would lead to the ranch? Concern for clues compelled me to get in the Ford and head for Bel Air. I took another member of our circle with me.
Returning to the scene of any crime is risky business, so instead of turning up Cielo Drive, we drove passed and looked up the hill to see if there was any activity that might indicate the police had arrived. Everything was quiet. Still not wanting to be too obvious, we parked the car a short distance away and walked to the premises. We entered the grounds by climbing over the fence, as the kids had done. As Sadie and Tex had said, the first victim’s car was off the driveway a short distance from the gate. Going by Tex’s description of how he had approached the car and how he had pushed it, I carefully wiped the car clean of possible finger prints without disturbing the body of the boy who lay dead inside.
Approaching the house where you know there are dead bodies has a spine-chilling effect, and I think if I had been alone, I might have forgotten about continuing any farther. My partner probably felt the same way, but neither of us spoke and we did go on to see the whole gory mess. Tex and Sadie’s description had been accurate. What I was seeing was not a scene from a movie or some horrible acid fantasy, but real people who would never see the morning’s sun. I’d had thoughts of creating a scene more in keeping with a black-against-white retaliation, but in looking around, I lost the heart to carry out my plans. The two of us took towels and wiped every place a finger print could have been left. I then placed the towel I used over the head of the man inside the room. My partner had an old pair of eyeglasses which we often used as a magnifying glass or a device to start a fire when matches weren’t available. We carefully wiped the glasses free of prints and dropped them on the floor, so that, when discovered, they would be a misleading clue for the police. Within an hour and twenty minutes after leaving Spahn, we were back. The sun was already bringing the light of day as I crawled in bed with Stephanie.”
That brings Charlie and his “partner” back to the ranch at approximately 3:50 a.m., some forty to one hour and ten minutes before the paper-boy arrives at Cielo Drive.
Spine-chilling just sitting here, all alone in my dark den, just typing these words out for you to read…
1) We know that no useable prints were found/lifted from Steve Parent’s Rambler BUT we also know from all who were there that the killers pushed that vehicle back to it’s resting place. Circumstantial again, but another one for the pile.
2) Charlie’s statements about being scared to enter the main house, and not having the heart to extend the already gory scene are very apropos of Charlie’s known personality trait of never having much courage when being alone; hence his constant need to be surrounded by an entourage when action of any sort is needed.
3) NO useable prints were found inside the living room itself, and because it was dark and Charlie makes no mention of investigating the bedroom areas of the Main house, it’s understandable how the prints on the front door (Tex’s) and on the Master bedroom French Door (Katie’s) were over-looked by Charlie and his “partner”. This also explains why Charlie then gave explicit instructions to the girls, on the LaBianca night, to wipe for finger-prints after the murders had been committed there.
4) IF you can go by the only crime scene photos published of Jay and that towel shown under the noose, one has to question, a) how Sadie could have thrown a loose towel that far (approximately 15-20 feet) as anything loose like that does not fly through the air that easily and I don’t see petite Sadie as a thrower somehow; and b) that this thrown towel could land so completely laid out on Jay’s head, even if you don’t buy that it landed under the noose itself. See photos here>>>
5) There were three towels, not just two, found at the crime scene. Two in the entryway, not counting the one over Jay’s battered head, as per Vince’s interview with house-keeper, Winifred Chapman, noted in “Helter Skelter”,
“There appeared to be blood on the trunk, on the floor next to them, and on the two towels in the entryway…”
No one in the trials asks Ms. Chapman to affirm this statement however. But it does add to the circumstantial pile of one more towel in use by someone for some purpose beyond what we know Sadie had pulled from the Hall closet in which to tie Voytek’s wrists.
6) Those crazy, never ID’d Manhattan frame eyeglasses…
Now, in any murder scene there are always clues that never get solved, always some detail or another, that without actually being the killer, the investigators never get answers for; but these glasses, without any plausible explanation of why they were there, out front, and not found under some piece of furniture, begs the statement that they were placed, thrown or dropped there during, or immediately after, the execution of these murders. As there was no major jostling of furniture in this killing scuffle, it’s difficult to believe that these glasses, which could have been lost months or even years prior, just happened to pop out in full view with no cause or reasonable explanation.
To date, these are some of the bits of witness statement and circumstantial evidence that I have acquired in this case; the inference of said is up to you.
To quote Sherlock Holmes "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."